Research Interests
Legal anthropology, diasporic trade, law and theology, classical economic theory

Research Area(s)
Indian Ocean, Indian-Muslim diasporas

Research Title
Negotiating Liminal Categories at the Margins of a Muslim Nation: The Case of 'Indian Muslims' in Malaysia


Waseem Naser is a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Fellow working towards his PhD within the research group 'The Bureaucratization of Islam and its Socio-Legal Dimensions in Southeast Asia'. He holds a Master's degree in Economics from IIUM Malaysia, where he defended his thesis on Adam Smith's moral philosophy. His current research focuses on responses to bureaucratic practices and classificatory schemes of law in Malaysia. Taking up the case of 'Indian Muslims' and their liminal position at the juncture of the categories of ethnicity and religion, Naser explores how identity, ethnicity and religion intersect and interact in a modern 'Islamic' nation. His broader objective is to conduct research on Indian Muslim diasporas across the Indian Ocean, concentrating on how kinship, trade and law traverse geographical boundaries. Having been trained in conventional economics, Naser has a keen interest in drawing out the intimate connections that conventional economic theories have with colonial and post-colonial law in these societies.

Why Law & Anthropology?

My interest in legal anthropology stems from my curiosity about how religion often becomes correlated with race and ethnicity in modern legal practices and documents. This is often linked to aspects of regulating populations and processes of state-making, where law has always been a crucial component. The combination of law and anthropology allows me to go beyond the restricted sense of law as essentially an instrument of governance and enforcement in order to analyse how humans perceive, construct and become moulded by law.

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